Travel & Life update!

Hey guys!

Since I’m the worst at actually planning to do a blog post beforehand (they usually just pour out of me when I’m under the pressure of writing one), I’m letting you know that there really isn’t going to be a huge blog post this week.

Why? I’m traveling to Egypt today!

I’m so excited about this trip, there isn’t enough exclamation points to actually describe what I’m feeling!!!! My mom, dad, my sister and I will be taking a flight to France tomorrow and then making the connection. We’ll be spending ten days with an excursion group and seeing a bunch of things like Memphis, Sakkara, Luxor, the Horus Temple, the Karnak Temple and Aswan. I do admit I kinda watched The Mummy one more time before packing my bags?

I’ve loved Egypt since I was a little girl (and since reading Asterix & Cleopatra, haha), and I can’t wait to see the Pyramids and temples, and so many great and historical things Egypt has to offer. I also have been thinking of setting a book in Egypt, so this will also be a little research trip. My sister is getting a History degree in University too and she studied hieroglyphs, so I think it’ll be a fun trip to us all.

Anyway, I hope to come back with plenty of pictures and stories to tell, and maybe one really solid idea for a new YA manuscript. If you want to check out my trip, I’ll probably post a looooot of pictures on instagram and snapchat. My username is onlybylaura, feel free to add me there!

The Sexualization of Teen characters in YA Romance (and why it needs to end)

Sit down because this is one reeeeeally long post. Recently I was talking to a friend about something that deeply bothered me in book blurbs – the use of the word “sexy”. Often, I see it used in erotic books – which are totally fine! – but still feel weird. What troubles me is the use of this word to describe… YA books.

Yeah, that’s right. We need to talk about romance in YA.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of romance books. I’d rather have a really good plotted fantasy than a romance any day, but I like when it’s well written. The feelings on the page, the characters and how they react. Often, for YA, romance is about first love and discovering love, and it can be great to read about in the page.

What doesn’t make it great is the way this romance is described often by authors. Authors are adults, writing about teen lives. We should have responsability when it comes to our writing, especially if it’s published, because then it will be able to affect people’s lives and maybe even normalize something that is not great. When I see adults describing a character as ‘sexy’, it always baffles me because we’re talking about teens. Fictional teens, yes, but still teens.

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Going Deep into POV

This is something all writers wonder at some point in our story. Choosing which POV will be used is something hard, especially because it’s the lens through which we’ll see the story pass.

POV – short for point of view – is one of the most important elements within a story. Why? Because it shapes exactly how we’re going to experience it. Is the story going to be told from the character’s perspective? Will we have an outside narrator? Will we get to see what’s within the characters head, or out of it?

This is going to be a long post where I discuss which options are better for your own stories (and some of my personal favorites, along with good examples). Ready for it? Then let’s take a deep look into POV options.

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Staying in Your Lane (And Other Publishing Woes)

Authors of Color and often LGBT writers always talk about “staying in your lane” when it comes to other writers that don’t share a marginalization with the character they are writing. More often than not, this is seen as a really restricting view on writing, as if POC are telling other writers NOT TO WRITE ANYTHING AT ALL.

This is very untrue, and I’ll talk a little more about it in this blog post, and what “staying in your lane” can really mean.

This past week a recent book cover and title were announced by Maggie Stiefvater. Her new book, “All the Crooked Saints”, centers around three main characters from the same family. They are all Latinx. And here’s where the problem is: it clearly shows through the interview and how the author talks about the book that she hasn’t done research at all. Or used sensitivity readers, that as we know, are something essential for a book that pictures a culture different than the author’s.

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Feedback with a pinch of salt

I’ve raved about the importance of finding the right CPs and beta readers before, and I’ll say this again. It’s really important to keep this in mind.

NOT ALL FEEDBACK WILL BE RIGHT FOR YOUR BOOK.

Repeat with me: NOT ALL FEEDBACK WILL BE RIGHT FOR YOUR BOOK.

This is really important to remember. I received a lot of feedback from Pitch Wars, and although some of it was useful, others… not so much. It’s a little disheartening as a writer to receive critique, especially because we put so much work in our beloved manuscripts. But feedback is really important when it comes to writing, mostly because it’s usually how you can improve your book. You can’t know what’s wrong with it if other people don’t tell you about it.

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The 2017 Guide to Behaving in Publishing when your book is called out

Hello friends!

Due to the crazy amount of responses we’ve been seing on the internet regarding a push back against sensitivity readers (whaaaaaaaat?) and what not, I decided to write a guide on how to behave if your book gets called out.

First of all, let’s sort some things straight. SENSITIVITY READERS ARE NECESSARY. They’re not some weird gatekeepers who are not letting you pass. They’re trying to make your book better and more inclusive. When you write, you should worry about your readers and what impact your book will have on them. And note that I don’t mean only your white, cis, heterosexual readers — it impacts every reader you might possibly have. Read this piece on sensitivity reading and why it’s so important before you can say anything else.

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The Really Unlikable Female Character

I’m always ranting about Unlikable Female Characters and what exactly makes them unlikable. There are some that I want to protect, some I love, some I understand. But this other week I was reading a book that featured one of them, and I just couldn’t get into her character.

After I stopped reading, I finally realized what exactly made me really dislike her. Mostly, it was because she insisted on dragging all the other female characters down.

Look, it’s understandable why we classify some female characters as unlikable – they’re awful to other people, they are problematic, they don’t like doing typically girly things. Sometimes those female characters are people who speak up and refuse other’s expectations. Sometimes they’re arrogant and confident of themselves. Sometimes they’re snarky and hate everyone around them. There isn’t a mold when it comes to unlikable female characters, which is why it makes them so interesting.

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How I Got My Agent

Just writing the title of this post kind of gave me all the excitment again. This is the dream post for every writer, right? Everyone wants to write one of these, and I devour them happily from all other writers. There’s nothing like seeing the reward for hard work, and I always wanted to write this one about my journey as well. And imagine this being the first post of 2017! Wheeeeeeeeeeee!

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This is definetly not one of those “I got my agent in a week” posts. We always see these kind of stories floating around, and that’s what we all want our journey to be like. Unfortunately, those are reeeeeeeeeeeally uncommon, even though they’re amazing. My own story is one of the regular ones.

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2016: Year in Review

Feels like I might as well write this post now, right?

2016 has been a fun year. I started querying back in 2015, in December, but 2016 was the jump into the trenches. I have learned many things, from changing my queries to editing manuscripts, to finding great critique partners. Some of the best moments in 2016 happened because of them, so thank you all (and a special shout-out to Deeba and Dana, who keep up with my frightful amount of e-mails and ideas).

As for other things, 2016 was a rough year, especially in politics. The world is complicated, but we must not be afraid to speak out. If we don’t speak out, nothing’s going to change. And we have the power to do that — we have the power to fight back, to make the world a better place.

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Small Comment Regarding the Elections

I’ve been where you are.

Recently, Brazilian politics have been a complete mess. There was a very illegal impeachment process for our elected president, and her vice-president replaced her. The current (illegitimate) president, Michael Temer, is from an extremely conservative party, and has taken many measures to repress protests that have been happening due to his government, as well as trying to pass laws that will freeze the investments made on education and public health for about 2o years.

This is a very short paragraph resuming what’s happening in politics here, and not even highlighting the worst of the worst. What’s happening now is that we’re stuck with a government that wasn’t elected democratically, and that has zero regards towards minorities.

We’ve seen a rise in the alt right in this year of 2016. It borders on fanatiscism, which worries me a lot. It’s a bad scenery in which to be a woman, POC, part of the LGBT community, disabled… it’s a bad scenery to be a minority. I saw many hopeless people today, many friends who feel like they’re worth nothing, because that’s what this election is telling them. That their lives don’t matter. Especially when everyone around has done so much work, only for this to be completely chucked in the bin when it came to this election.

It’s not true. You’re important. So, so important.

White women have elected Trump. The majority of white people voted to elect a mysoginist, bigoted and racist man. A lot of people are feeling the fear of this election today. It feels desperate, something horrifying. I can barely write this post with any coherence, but I felt like I needed to address this.

I know, we’re tired of fighting. I know what it feels like to talk and talk and sometimes feel like no one’s listening on the other end.

So promise me this. Listen to Black and Native women when they talk about racism. Listen to women talking about sexism. Listen to people who talk about disabilities, trans people, LGBT people. That’s all I can repeat today. Listen to them. Pay attention. Learn.

Listen, listen, listen.

That’s all I can say for today. If you need to talk, I’m here for you. All I can say is that again, we must as always stick together.

I can’t convey into words what I’m feeling. Writing this post is hard, and I don’t even live in the USA. As part of world politics, I feel its impact. I’m afraid for people I know and have come to call friends. But together we’re stronger.

And we have hope for a better future. And that’s how most writers do their living on, anyway. On Hope.

Stay hopeful. And stay fighting.

 

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